Sterling filled hollowware restoration

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Sterling Vase
sterling 3 light candelabra-1

Sterling vase with split seam, broken from base, crushed bell.

sterling handles letter opener-2

Metalsmith Rita Robben, removes the fill (pitch) from the base, gradually works the silver out and open to the shape of the bell and the shape of the vase. It requires several annealing’s.

When the metal lines up as well as it will, a sleeve is placed to join the split. The bell shows several splits from the crush as well so it to is soldered, and the vase is also soldered to the base. The base is filled and closed and polished.

Sterling can be hollow or filled. Filled hollowware is closed on each side with a cap or plug.

The inside can be filled with a variety of materials however most of the time it is filled with a substance called “Pitch”. Pitch is usually a mix of tree sap and sand. To restore a filled silver hollowware piece, the cap is carefully removed and the fill evacuated. The piece is then restored, dents removed, breaks soldered and even sections fabricated and installed where the damage is too severe. The piece is then refilled with new pitch fill and carefully closed.

Before and after of a sterling 3 light candelabra arm broken at the body.

It is a common restoration request, an arm broken away from the body. Sometimes the damage is due to aggressive handling and sometimes it is just a weak area. I remove the fill, reinforce the arm for a stronger hold, solder and then back fill to give a good solid structure to the 3 light arm.

sterling 3 light candelabra-1
sterling 3 light candelabra-2
Before and after of a sterling handles letter opener with the handle torn apart.

This letter opener was a treasured family heirloom. It was used everyday and the customer wanted to continue the use regardless of the restoration outcome.

I was dealing with very thin metal and badly torn silver. I started with removing the pitch fill. I straightened and aligned the silver. I built a sleeve to line the interior for strength. I carefully soldered the torn silver then detailed the design. I mixed a pitch fill with the highest strength factor and re-pitched the blade.

sterling handles letter opener-1
sterling handles letter opener-2
Before and after of fire damaged sterling silver candle sticks.

There are very few items that cannot be restored. This is a pair of sterling 5” candle sticks that were in a fire. The fill left inside is removed, the debris from the fire removed. Then the dent removal, straightening and solder, refilling and finishing with a machine polishing.

sterling silver candle sticks-1
sterling silver candle sticks-2
Filled Hollowware Restoration
  • Dent removal of dented, twisted, bent filled pieces.
  • Soldering of broken, split and cracked pieces
  • Fabrication of missing or severely damaged
  • Re-pitch/ resetting of items where the fill has become exposed
  • Reinforce, straighten, leveling of hollowware pieces
  • Cleaning, polishing, lacquer removal and tarnish prevention

Have your damaged silver heirlooms returned to their original beauty by Robben Metal Restoration Specialist


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